The pre-release hysteria surrounding superstar Rajnikant's 100th Tamil film Sivaji, which hits the screens June 15, has reached a crescendo. CDs and cassettes are selling like hot cakes, contests are in full swing and halls are booked for the first two weeks.
One doesn't know how much of the hype is PR work and how much of it is for real, but those who couldn't book the tickets are now agonising over whether they will get to see the film in the first 15 days.
B.R. Udeep, the owner of the Mayajaal multiplex just outside the city, which can accommodate 4,500 viewers, told IANS: "It is booked till June end. Some companies and corporate houses want tickets for 10 shows for their staff. We are booking on a first come first serve basis."
The owner of Sathyam cinema, another popular theatre located in the heart of the city, said the demand for tickets for "Sivaji" started two months ago.
"The film will be the mother of all Rajni movies," said actor Mohan, who is also a Rajnikant fan.
The first show of the film will be held in Seattle, US, June 14. Sivaji will also be released in Canada, Europe, Australia, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Malaysia. And it will hit Indian screens June 15 and the Tamil Nadu government is expected to give it a tax benefit.
Sivaji will be released with approximately 400 Tamil and 300 Telugu digital prints worldwide.
A popular news channel aired an "unofficial" trailer May 30 followed by an "official" trailer May 31. The 30-second trailer showed Rajnikant in action in three different getups and hairdos. So much so that Rajni's French hairstylist Sandrine Verrier Seth has now hit the headlines.
Made at a cost of Rs.500 million, Sivaji is AVM's most costly film so far and may turn out to be the costliest film ever made in India. Directed by Shankar, the film has music by veteran composer A.R. Rahman.
Rajni's fans have lapped up the songs. And trade pundits say the demand for Sivaji CDs and cassettes is the highest for any film in the last 25 years. There are, of course, the tune downloads on mobiles, with Reliance, Hutch, Airtel, all eyeing a piece of the Sivaji pie.
There are Sivaji contests on mobile telephones and film sites like galatta.com and even Sivaji trinkets and posters.
The cyber crime department is on the prowl in Ritche Street, ready to pounce on illegal CDs of the film and its music.